The reason I am speaking about death today is two-fold. First, I have been somewhat preoccupied with the concept of death since entering a new decade of my life. I no longer believe in the evangelical vision of heaven I learned about in my youth; but as an uncomfortable “un”-Christian, I also have no satisfactory vision to replace it. Or rather, there are many visions I find appealing, but none that I “believe in,” as I had believed in heaven. My family is getting older, my parents have been sick in the last few years, and I often feel that I have more to lose now than I used to.
My second reason for considering death today is that last Wednesday, Mimi, our family cat of 24 years—yes, 24—passed away. After spending all nine of her lives living, Mimi could no longer eat and was suffering. My mother had her put down after we all said goodbye; we held a funeral for her and buried her among the lilies in our yard, her home.
My sisters and myself were very, very saddened by Mimi’s passing; but my mother took it hardest of all. Mimi had been her companion, her friend, her lap warmer, her snuggle buddy, her alarm clock and, we often joked, her favorite child for over two decades. I wanted to comfort my mother; but my protest that it didn’t matter what the (her) Church said, Mimi was with the God/dess, was maybe, not very helpful. It perhaps, only reminded her that in her view, I too am not going to heaven.
I remember sitting in church, as a child being told that animals did not have souls and that there was no “kitty heaven.” That was perhaps, one of the first times in my life that I thought, “that’s just ridiculous,” in a church. Not just ridiculous, but mean and cruel even. “What,” I thought, “is the point in saying such a thing?” Continue reading “Where do Cats Go?: Reflections on Death Post Patriarchal Christianity by Sara Frykenberg”